Young muay Thai fighters in elbow slugfestBy
Here’s a video that’s bound to raise some questions: two young muay thai fighters step into the ring and it turns into an elbow slugfest like I haven’t seen in a while, not even in the adult fighter scene. They go at it with wild abandon and trade one vicious elbow to the head after another. Here’s the thing though: Pidsanu (red) is only 15 years old and Siragnern (blue) is 18. As is the custom in Thailand, they’ve been fighting since they were very young and are used to taking hard impacts, as you can tell from the video.
I’ll comment here below but first watch the video. It starts of normal enough but around 4min. the elbow strikes start coming out:
- I’m sure many people will be horrified by the violence of this fight with both fighters being underage. In part, I understand and agree. This fight is pretty rough regardless of age. But you need to remember that this is the national sport of Thailand. Just like you have kids in Brazil kicking a ball around as soon as they can walk (soccer is big there….) , many Thai kids start punching and kicking at about the same age. Having a successful muay Thai career is a way out of poverty for many of them. It’s also the ticket to a better life. So as much as you might disagree with teenagers fighting like this, consider that in their culture, this is normal.
- Western morality and societal rules don’t apply. Like I mentioned in the previous bullet, you can’t just look at this kind of fight and judge it from a purely Western perspective. The Thai society isn’t Western, it’s Eastern and a very particular one at that. You may like it, you may not, that’s basically irrelevant: it is their culture and they have as much a right to it as we do to ours. Judging them by using our own moral standards is in my opinion very arrogant and inherently wrong.
- While I’m on my soapbox: I believe Western societies in general are mostly out of touch with the realities of violence. The main part of our population has no clue as to what violence really is, why it happens and how to handle it. So they freak out when they see a video like this. Like I read on Marc’s page “We have been bullied into believing we are pacifists.” I think this is a sad fact and the cause for numerous problems in our societies. Mind you, I am NOT glorifying or advocating violence, on the contrary. I am saying people in modern civilizations no longer have the knowledge of, nor are they skilled at handling violence, unlike their parents or grandparents who lived in times when violence was more a part of daily life. Guess what: in other parts of the world, people still do. Just because you don’t anymore, doesn’t mean you’re somehow morally superior to these folks.
- Both fighters are well trained. They don’t flail around like two scared little kids in a schoolyard brawl. They have clean, crisp technique and are clearly accustomed to the intensity of such a fight. In a way, this makes the fight both safer and more dangerous: safer because they have the skill to defend themselves, dangerous because they are more effective at hitting hard. Regardless, these two boys are ready for the ring.
- They are evenly matched. Despite the age gap, the fight could have gone either way. Sure, Pidsanu is more aggressive but he runs into a ton of counters on his way in and could have been knocked out as well. So it’s not a beat-down of a weaker opponent by a stronger one, even though it might look like that to the untrained eye.
- They have heart. It’s not easy to stand there, take elbows to the face and still keep going. The ring is a lonely place and a lot of fighters crack under pressure. These two kids show tremendous heart and fighting spirit for their age. I know a bunch of adult fighters who can take a lesson or two from them on that front…
All that said and done, this fight is perhaps a bit much for my taste. I’m not against kids competing in martial arts, not at all. But this fight is just over the line of what I consider acceptable for that age. They aren’t strong enough to hit like an adult male but they already hit hard enough to knock each other out (which is not as common as you might think with kids.) However, they don’t yet have the body of a grown man. Their bodies are still growing and settling. Which means that the damage they receive then can have serious consequences for the remainder of their lives. There’s a reason why in Thailand a fighter is considered old at age thirty…
If it were my boy, I’d be very unhappy if he chose to become a professional fighter. Not because I have something against the sport, on the contrary. I am also fully aware that this is “Do as I say, not as I do” since I was a full-time competitive fighter myself. But here’s the thing: talk to any retired fighter who is willing to speak up and you’ll hear stories about permanent injuries, chronic pain and a bleak future for their bodies as they get older. Granted, not all of them have it that bad but a lot of them do. They just don’t talk about it because, well, that’s just not cool and macho because only pussies talk about that shit right?
Maybe so but that pain, those physical problems? They’re still real even if you refuse to talk about them.
I don’t want that for my son.
I want him to live a long, healthy and happy life so sports and exercise are definitely a part of that. But professional sports, in the ring or otherwise (soccer is a lot worse than martial arts, by the way…), are something I’d rather not see him take up. I’d rather he get all the benefits of training and working out and avoid all the downsides that potentially come with it.
I’ll still teach him to defend himself, no question about that. But I hope he takes a different path than his old man did. Maybe become the next Bill Gates or something like that…